The outdoor industry contributed $373.7 billion to the United States economy in 2016, according to a new preliminary report from the Department of CommerceThe statistics, gathered by the department's Bureau of Economic Analysis, found that the gross output of the outdoor industry made up 2% of the United States' gross domestic product that year. It also grew faster than most other industries, expanding 3.8% compared to 2.8% for the economy as a whole.The report is a follow-up to the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016, which required the BEA to quantify outdoor recreation's impact on the U.S. economy. In a press release, the BEA said that motorized recreation such as RV touring was the single biggest category, making up $59.4 billion of the total. The new figures also top the value of the mining industry (including oil and gas), which the BEA estimates at $260 billion."The public will no doubt be surprised at the economic importance of this industry as we release … [Read more...] about U.S. Government: The Outdoor Industry Contributed Almost $374 Billion to the Economy
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Would you like to kick back and relax on a beach in the U.S. Virgin Islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John, without having to obtain a valid U.S. passport first? Good news, you can—U.S. Virgin Islands passport requirements state that as long as you don’t touch down on foreign soil before arriving, you do not need a passport. Since the U.S. Virgin Islands are collectively a U.S. Commonwealth and therefore considered domestic travel for U.S. citizens, it’s easy to take a tropical getaway without having to obtain a new passport for travel to St. Thomas, St. Croix, or St. John. You may, however, be required to show proof of citizenship when departing the U.S. Virgin Islands, such as a raised-seal birth certificate and a valid government-issued ID card. Although this does not mean that you need a passport to travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands, you may want to opt for carrying a passport with you anyway—that way, you only need to carry one document versus two. … [Read more...] about U.S. Virgin Islands Passport Requirements: Do I Need a Passport to Go to the U.S. Virgin Islands?
In the latest blow to Cuba tourism, the U.S. Department of the Treasury today issued new restrictions on travel to the island nation. Apparently following up on President Trump’s promise, in June, to strengthen Cuba sanctions and travel restrictions, U.S. citizens wishing to visit Cuba will only be allowed to do so as members of organized tour groups, accompanied by at least one member of the sponsoring organization. Trips booked prior to June 16 are exempt from the new restrictions. Related:This Country Just Took the Title for World’s Most Powerful Passport Further complicating Cuba travel is the new ban on doing business with a long list of hotels and other businesses, many of which cater to tourists. According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, “We have strengthened our Cuba policies to channel economic activity away from the Cuban military and to encourage the government to move toward greater political and economic freedom for the Cuban people.” The new … [Read more...] about U.S. Government Tightens Cuba Travel Restrictions
Topless sunbathing and nude beaches are popular in Europe, South America, and the Caribbean. In the U.S., however, nude beaches can, well, raise a few eyebrows. But “clothing optional” beaches aren’t what you may think—they’re not lewd or indecent places. In fact, they tend to be more relaxed and the beachgoers respectful because everyone’s in the buff. And this anti-nude attitude wasn’t always the case here. In fact, before 1860, when Queen Victoria of England outlawed nude swimming, the only thing people were wearing in the water was their birthday suits. Soon after the law was passed, swimsuits were invented and people became more “clothes-minded.” The rest is history. But there is something freeing about taking it all off and letting the sun beat down on your back(side). For those who want to strip so there’s nothing between yourself and the sand, here’s everything you need to know about the top nude beaches in … [Read more...] about The Top Nude Beaches in the U.S.
As a college student in 2002, I was lucky to be part of a small group of Americans who gained legal passage to Cuba through a little-known educational byway. I couldn’t have timed my visit better, because shortly thereafter the U.S. government implemented a policy change that eliminated the travel exemption for Cuba. Back then, Fidel Castro himself invited my group to meet him while we were in Havana. He provided the Cuba Libras and we indulged him in a six-hour propaganda soapbox before showing him how much American college kids like to party. When President Obama announced the easing of travel restrictions in March, more than a decade after my first visit, I immediately started planning another trip—but not without some hesitation. The restrictions that have kept Cuba isolated all these years have also contributed to its extraordinary singularity as a travel destination. My worry this time around? That the increase in American tourism to Cuba would change it as a travel … [Read more...] about Cuba, Then and Now: Have U.S. Travelers Already Changed Cuba?
For the first time in more than 50 years, U.S. airlines have received federal approval to operate scheduled flight services to Cuba. The six carriers given the green light by the Department of Transportation are American, Frontier, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Southwest, and Sun Country. They can begin service to nine cities in Cuba—Camaguey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguin, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara, and Santiago de Cuba, but not Havana—as early as this fall. From the U.S. side, Cuba will be served from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Philadelphia. Yet to be decided is which U.S. carriers will be awarded rights to fly to Havana, Cuba’s capital and largest city. As a group, U.S. airlines have applied to operate around 60 daily flights to Havana, but the air-services agreement only allows for a maximum of 20 daily roundtrips. The airlines approved for service must now request authorization from the Cuban government before … [Read more...] about These 6 U.S. Airlines Approved for Cuba Flights
While the doors into Cuba are ajar and continue to open wider, there are still import regulations to heed. To go there, U.S. visitors must fall within the twelve approved categories—including family visits, educational activities, religious activities, and humanitarian projects—for Cuba travel. Travelers need to make trip arrangements through a provider that complies with the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations. And if you're tempted to go through a third country such as Canada or Mexico, make sure you still fit one of these categories. You can find the full list in the White House's FACT SHEET: Charting a New Course on Cuba. While the doors into Cuba are ajar and continue to open wider, there are still import regulations to heed. To go there, U.S. visitors must fall within the twelve approved categories—including family visits, educational activities, religious activities, and humanitarian projects—for Cuba travel. Travelers need … [Read more...] about How to Travel to Cuba Legally from the U.S.
The Department of Transportation today announced its nominees to operate nonstop flights to Havana, Cuba. In all, eight airlines were approved for service to Havana from 10 U.S. airports, as follows: According to the DOT, the selections were made to “maximize public benefits, including choosing airlines that offered and could maintain the best ongoing service between the U.S. and Havana. The proposed nonstop Havana routes provide service for cities with substantial Cuban-American population, and to important aviation hub cities with their convenient connections and competitive service.” The airlines and other interested parties have until July 22 to comment on the DOT’s proposed allocation of flights, which should be finalized before summer’s end. Thereafter, authorization from the Cuban government must also be received, with Havana flights expected to begin operating as early as this fall. Last month, the DOT approved services by six U.S. carriers to nine … [Read more...] about Havana Flights Approved for 8 Airlines, from 10 U.S. Airports
At the time of writing, the only way to travel to Cuba legally from the U.S. is under one of the 12 categories of authorized travel by the Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). These categories include family visits, official government business, journalism, professional research and meetings, educational or religious activities, and humanitarian projects, among others. The easiest way to travel to Cuba from the U.S. is through an authorized tour company, like AccessTrips, that will organize a legal people-to-people itinerary on your behalf. At the time of writing, the only way to travel to Cuba legally from the U.S. is under one of the 12 categories of authorized travel by the Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). These categories include family visits, official government business, journalism, professional research and meetings, educational or religious activities, and humanitarian projects, among others. The easiest way to … [Read more...] about Cuba Travel Tips: What You Should Know Before You Travel to Cuba from the U.S.
At BACKPACKER, it's no secret that we're pretty proud of our national parks; that's why you'll reliably see them in our pages and online. We'd argue they're worthy of international acknowledgment, but that's something the government hasn't pursued very actively since 1982. That's all changing, though: Last year, the Interior Department developed a new list of potential UNESCO World Heritage sites to submit to the committee in hopes of inclusion. Also, after allowing our contribution to the World Heritage fund to drop to zero in 2001, we've finally upped our donation to $700,000 last year. New nominees for World Heritage sites include the Petrified National Forest, White Sands National Monument, San Antonio's Franciscan missions, the ancient Native American Serpent Mound and Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks in Ohio, Civil Rights movement sites in Alabama, and the buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright. They would join current U.S. World Heritage sites like Olympic National Park, Yellowstone, … [Read more...] about More U.S. World Heritage Sites?